“There’s hope for your future, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 32:17a CEB
It was a beautiful summer day in central Michigan and everyone was enjoying time on the lake together. People were swimming, floating in inflatable rafts, and some were water skiing. I was enjoying a little of all three. When my turn came up to go waterskiing I jumped at the opportunity. At this point, I had been skiing for several years. This day I was slalom skiing and really enjoying cutting through the water and having fun. My uncle, who was driving the boat, thought it would be fun to mess with me a little. Instead of the normal speed I would ski at he decided to pull me as fast as the boat would go and make a lot of turns. I hung on and was determined not to fall—despite his efforts. When he decided I wasn’t going to fall he headed back toward the dock to drop me off. As we approached the dock I didn’t realize, nor do he, that we were still going faster than usual. I let go of the rope and began gliding toward the dock—as I usually did—only this time it became obvious I was not going to stop before hitting the dock. I did the only thing I could think to do and laid back on the ski in hopes I could stop in time. I did not. The ski ran into the dock and my body felt like an accordion as the impact worked its way through my body. It hurt extremely bad and I was writhing in the water in pain. It was a day I will always remember.
As I lay in the water, I felt as though the pain would never end. It was very intense in the moment. The pain eventually subsided enough for me to get out of the water. It subsided over the next few hours and even over the next couple of days. However, I believe because of that pain I was a different person. I would live a little differently, make decisions a little differently, and understand pain a little differently. It was a traumatic event that would change me and inform me about future decisions. I can assure you that I never approached the dock the same way while water skiing. I am sure also that I have approached other things differently because of that experience. Pain is a great deterrent and a great motivator. We are deterred by times of pain to avoid similar situations where pain may occur. We are also motivated to take more information into account as we consider the potential for pain. The reality is that in life there will be pain. How we handle the pain, learn from the pain, and grow through the pain is very important. Life throws us all kinds of pain in various forms and sizes.
When we choose to make a difference with our life we must realize we will see, and sometimes experience, great pain. We will hurt for the people we are called to serve. Sometimes the people with whom we serve will cause us pain. It is also possible to be hurt by the very ones you are trying to help and serve. The story of the Hebrew people is one of pain, hurt, and sorrow. Yet, in the midst of the terrible suffering of the Hebrew people, Jeremiah offers something amazing. Jeremiah the prophet offers hope. God’s hope. In the midst of their suffering he declares, “There’s hope for your future, declares the Lord.” There is always hope! No matter what we see, experience, or suffer there is always hope for the future. This is the message of God through Jeremiah the prophet and it is also the message of God through Jesus Christ the Son. In the midst of pain there is hope. Jesus is that hope for the hurting world.
When we go to make a difference in the world around us, we may very well be led into hurting, broken, and dark places. We may be led to hurt, broken, and darkened people. This is okay. Actually, this is glorious. It is in the hurting, broken, dark places where hope is needed the most. This is where our light shines brightest—the light of Jesus Christ. Making a difference is about bringing hope to what seems hopeless and light where darkness seems overwhelming. There is hope—there is always hope. Are you willing to go to the places of pain? Where people are hurting? Where people are broken? Will you go and offer hope? Will you be the light? For certain there will be pain when we go and serve, but there will always be hope as well. For there’s hope in your future, declares the Lord.
This weekend at all four worship services we continue the message series Make A Difference. Make A Difference is also the theme of our stewardship campaign as we prepare for our 2019 ministry needs. This weekend we will discuss how pain and hope meet when we are called to make a difference. We also will have another terrific testimony on how God started a fire in one of our members and how the Holy Spirit has been moving in their life. I hope you will join us this weekend and every weekend. The best is yet to come for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!
Looking for a way you can make a difference? Be a part of our Make a Difference Serve Weekend on October 27-28. Register today at SAUMC.NET/BeTheLight